Trump says he’ll announce Supreme Court pick July 9

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Justice Kennedy, who turns 82 in July and is the second-oldest justice on the nine-member court, has become one of the most consequential USA jurists since joining the court in 1988 as an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan. Two of the finalists are women, Trump said, adding he may interview one or two of the candidates over the weekend. He also said he would "probably interview six or seven" candidates all together.

Thus far, the focus from both sides has been on whether Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, could be reversed.

During the candidate vetting the last time, the White House asked all the contenders whom they would pick instead of themselves - and they all said Gorsuch, said the person, who was not authorized to disclose private conversations.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, 47, a member of the Senate that must confirm Trump's nominee, is also under consideration, aides said.

"It's a great group of intellectual talent. they are generally conservative", he said, without naming any names. "I stressed the importance of nominating someone to the Supreme Court who is pragmatic, fair, compassionate, committed to justice, and above politics".

White House officials said they would like to see a new justice confirmed and sworn in before the new court term starts on October 1, or at least by Election Day on November 6.

Many White House allies see Brett Kavanaugh as the favorite to replace Kennedy.

Kennedy personally delivered his retirement letter to the White House on Wednesday afternoon, after he told his fellow justices of his plans.

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Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, are shown during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on February 15. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's replacement to oppose abortion.

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Maslin said the court opening might even end up helping the Democratic incumbents if voters become anxious that a tilt to the right will endanger abortion rights, gay rights and access to health care.

He said Democratic senators running for reelection in conservative states, like West Virginia and in, face a "lose-lose" scenario: risk angering their base voters by supporting Trump's pick, or vote no and harm their chances among the Republicans and moderates they still need to win.

Steve Aden, general counsel of Americans United for Life, said he expects the nominee will be "somebody who reveres the Constitution like Gorsuch and Antonin Scalia". "We must elect more Republicans - we have to do that".

MS and Louisiana recently passed legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks with limited exceptions. Among the issues now in the courts are Arkansas' regulation of abortion pills and a Kentucky law that would ban a common procedure for second-trimester abortions.

"They're looking for anything and everything to motivate their base because they know they've got a big problem on their hands", said Maslin.

Collins wasted no time following Kennedy's announcement to reiterate that she believes Roe v. Wade is "settled law", but a spokeswoman told the Portland Press Herald that Collins "does not apply ideological litmus tests to nominees".

That's true, and it's the goal of many abortion-rights opponents, some of whom downplay the idea that abortion could become illegal nationwide. Planned Parenthood has said that the law is both medically unnecessary and would effectively ban medication abortion in the state. An affiliated group began running ads Thursday in 10 states that Trump won in 2016 where Democratic senators are now up for re-election.

"He is going to put someone on the court who will be the fifth vote to criminalize abortion, punish women and throw them in jail", declared Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

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